Behind the Scenes of The Hacks with Tom Hatch and Jimmy Chunga

August 20, 2021 - Salt Project Team

Virtual Meet Up | June 2021

On June 16, 2021, our Salt community spent an hour with The Hacks podcast stars! Tom Hatch, creator of Salt Project and computing demi-god, and Jimmy Chunga, former DJ-radio host and Salt Project content marketer extraordinaire, took us behind-the-scenes of this award-winning podcast. In typical Tom and Chunga fashion, there were a lot of laughs and fun tidbits on how they put together this weekly treasure trove of information.

Here’s are the episode highlights:

What makes this podcast so successful? Sure, Tom and Chunga are experts in their fields, but authenticity is the key to their success. In Chunga’s words, “We don’t try to be anything we’re not.” Oh, and these two are great friends as well! #BFFs!

How do these amazing topics come to be? In short, Tom thinks in magical ways. Chunga says, “My job is not to talk about tech. The first thing I need to do is get Tom talking, and then I need to control it. Turn on the faucet and then not let it run all over the floor.” The true secret is sticking to their tried-and-true formula, which Tom says, “Is basically, come up with something tech-related to talk about then throw in a lot of movie quotes and we’re going to be fine.”

What was the inspiration behind The Hacks? We wanted to provide entertainment first, tech-based topics second. Growing the Salt community is just as important as entertaining current listeners. When thinking about topics, this dynamic duo hunts around for areas of tech that have mass-appeal to bring more voices to the community.

How do you keep audiences entertained throughout an entire episode? One of the areas of brilliance on the podcast is the ability to ask good questions. Chunga plays the role of a person who may not have as much tech experience as Tom. His internal monologue is, “What would someone need to know here?” On the other side of things, Tom’s internal dialogue is just externalizing his internal dialogue. Now we know what you’re asking yourself… does Tom really think about coding constantly? Yes, yes he does.

What are the tough parts about recording this podcast? Beyond making the time to deliver a top-notch show every week, the biggest issue they keep an eye out for is getting too in the weeds with tech. That deep-dive is saved for Salt Air (another brilliant show hosted by Janae Andrus from Salt Project.) Oh, and then there are the days when Tom eats JCW cheese fries right before recording… those days (plus post-production following those days) are always a challenge.

What is the most rewarding part of this podcast? Tom loves when Chunga stumps him with a great question, and they get to explore what he doesn’t know rather than what he does. Chunga loves the engagement and feedback from the community. When people reach out with more information on a certain topic or correct facts in the show, it shows how people resonate and engage with any given topic. It means a lot when you see people across the globe saying this podcast is worth a listen and worth writing in about.

Why a podcast format? Branded podcasts are becoming popular. Newspapers are going under, not because the information isn’t good, but because people consume media differently. “We seem to have a lot more time for entertainment than we do for study,” Tom noted. This is why a podcast at the crossroads of tech and entertainment was (and still is) ahead of its time.

Was it hard to sell the idea of the podcast during the acquisition? (Shout out to Gary Giesen for this great question!) VMware is incredibly supportive of Salt Project and of The Hacks podcast. It was a highlight during the acquisition and, while there were some moments when Tom and Chunga had to remind people of its value, this platform remains an integral part of what Salt Project is all about: community! The benefit of merging with VMware is introducing The Hacks to a whole new audience. Even today, this acquisition has helped bring people into the fold that didn’t know about this part of the Salt community. The main difference of Salt inside of VMware is that people inside of VMware are seeing and understanding how it’s important to talk to a broader ecosystem, and Salt Project/The Hacks demonstrates how that makes for good business. (Yes… Gary asked a great question that turned on Tom’s faucet!)

And, of course, some Fun Facts courtesy of Tom and Chunga:

  • Chunga’s cat is probably the only one in the world who isn’t a fan of Tom.
  • Tom’s State of the Union is in the episode graveyard. All Tom’s fault. Noise-cancelling headphones work!

Thank you to all who joined us for this event! To relive this experience, or catch up on what you missed, you can watch the episode here. Catch up on all episodes of The Hacks with co-hosts Tom and Chunga here. Keep an eye out for more virtual meet-ups each month. Stay up to date on the full calendar of events when you follow Salt Project on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook.